Maritime law is an area of civil law that applies to the sea and to workers on ships. This type of law provides federal compensation protection for people who are injured in a maritime accident. Though many people assume that maritime law doesn’t apply to them, in fact, it does. Even people who don’t work on a ship are covered by maritime law, and certain extensions apply to non-maritime workers as well. Here are some examples of situations when maritime law applies to non-maritime workers:
Admiralty courts deal with cases that relate to navigation on the high seas, as well as other issues related to shipping. The federal courts have jurisdiction over admiralty cases, and under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, those courts have jurisdiction over cases involving maritime law. A common example of a maritime case is a collision between a ship and a container ship. This type of case can be a complex one, because it can require the use of a court system that is unfamiliar with the particulars of maritime law.
While maritime cases are usually brought in federal courts, some cases can also be handled in state courts. While federal courts generally do not allow maritime cases to go to state courts, seamen who are eligible to receive a jury trial in a state court are protected by the Jones Act. Maritime cases may be handled in federal courts or state courts depending on where the incident took place. Maritime attorneys need to be familiar with the nuances of both jurisdictions.